|Jon Krakauer, a recently discovered favorite.|
As I was reading my latest undertaking - Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven - I started to come across the names of some places that had just recently entered my awareness, due to Michigan's recruitment of Salt Lake City (UT) Highland fullback Sione Houma. The book is mostly about the history of the Mormon religion, Mormon Fundamentalism, and the things people do for their religion. One of the proposed names for Utah Territory before it was established was "Deseret," which means "honeybee" in The Book of Mormon. TTB Andrew and I mined the Deseret News for weekly updates on Houma during his senior season; the paper happens to be owned by the church of the Latter-Day Saints.
Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. The frame for the book comes from the 1984 murder of Brenda and Erica Lafferty, the wife and 15-month-old daughter of Allen Lafferty. Brenda and Erica were murdered by Allen's older brothers, whose polygamy and extreme Fundamentalist views were threatening the relationships and physical safety of many women and children in the Lafferty family. Krakauer reveals the run-up to the murders while simultaneously explaining the origins of the Mormon religion, beginning with the "prophet" Joseph Smith in the early 19th century. Having known very little about about Mormonism prior to picking up the book, I have found myself fascinated by how quickly and dangerously this off-shoot of Christianity has spread.
Three and Out by John U. Bacon. Everybody and his brother has offered his thoughts on Three and Out, which is why I haven't posted in depth on my response to the book. Bacon follows Rich Rodriguez throughout his three years at Michigan, while also detailing some interviews with others inside the program. There's not much that gets revealed that devout Michigan fans didn't know already, but it's nice to get confirmation on some things that were thought to possibly just be internet rumors. It's clear that Rodriguez was playing catch-up from the time he was hired and had a snowball's chance in Hell to be successful. Rodriguez was somewhat guilty of failing to endear himself to Michigan people, especially with the way he got rid of so many Michigan staffers; rather than making appointments, workers who wanted to stay at Michigan had to wait in line to interview for a chance to keep their positions. It was a great book for a Michigan fan to read, but only if you like torturing yourself.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I'm not ashamed to admit that I still read children's books. I watched the movie as a kid but never realized back then that The Neverending Story was actually a book. It was surprisingly long and convoluted for a children's book, but it was pleasant nonetheless. It's the story of a world that is slowly disintegrating because nobody reads the book anymore. The only person who can save Fantastica is a fat, nerdy bookworm . . . like Manny from Modern Family. Or me.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. This is an older book, but I was immediately transfixed by Anthony Hopkins' performance when I saw the film several years ago. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading any of the books by Harris, but this past summer, I read Hannibal and couldn't get enough. True crime has always been interesting to me, and while I'm not particularly fond of fictionalized crime novels, the Hannibal Lecter series has me enthralled. In case you're unfamiliar, a pathological serial killer in the form of Lecter helps a young FBI trainee find a fellow serial killer from behind bars.
The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. I've always been a fan of Cave's music (Murder Ballads, anyone?), but I was unimpressed by this literary effort. I kept waiting for the story to go into overdrive because I admire Cave's lyrics, but the story just kind of floated along until the anti-climactic ending. On the plus side, Cave did write the screenplay and soundtrack for The Proposition. Maybe I'll just stick to watching his movies and listening to his songs about death.